Going back to the pioneering days of mountain biking in BC on the North Shore in the 1990’s, BC has been keeping up with its reputation as one of the best places on earth to roll knobby tires on dirt.
Although I love all of the outdoor adventures featured on exploreoutside.ca, above all mountain biking has a special place in my heart. 20 years ago, I went head first into mountain biking when I did the legendary cross country race on Hornby Island, followed by a winter inauguration of hardtail endos and burned vee-brakes pads on the North Shore, years of cross country, DH, and more recently enduro racing. Add to that, countless epical rides throughout BC and outside the province in the Yukon, Quebec, Utah, Nevada, California, Washington, Oregon, Guatemala, England, Wales, and did I mention New Zealand?!! In other words, I have some great recommendations for the best places to mountain bike in my home of British Columbia!
Here is my curated list of must ride locations for your next mountain biking trip in BC! This is the suggested order of priorities, but getting a bit disordered would also be fun!!
I haven’t written separate articles on many of these locations, yet. Check out Trailforks for route stats and trail details.
The original and best lift access mountain biking resort in the world. Epical alpine riding. Endless valley network trails. Whistler is located in the heart of the stunning coast mountains and therefore is often the first stop for going head first into mountain biking in BC. Beyond the resort, the huge valley network and alpine trails are maintained by the local club, as is the common scenario in most of BC. The alpine trails are so popular that the trail quality is diminishing rapidly, definitely check the most recent reports to tweak your expectations. Expect busier trails and more expensive travel costs in this swanky resort town!
Whistler – Trails to Ride
I don’t know about you, but I was drawn to mountain biking on the premise of riding a bike up a mountain. Revelstoke finally delivers on this in dramatic fashion! A six hour drive from Vancouver will get you to this tiny gem of a town, nestled in the Columbia River valley and surrounded by the ginormous Selkirk and Monashee mountain ranges. Tick off all of the local alpine classics and enjoy alpine views that are second to none! In addition, keep your legs rolling in three entertaining valley networks.
Revelstoke – Trails to Ride
Squamish has been my favourite place to visit for riding, for all of time, for a few reasons. Busting with giant slick roots, singletrack for dayz, and surrounded by huge trees in a temperate rainforest, Squamish serves up a classic serving of BC biking at its best. From the legendary classic cross country race, The Test of Metal, to the new school flow trail that inspired copycats in networks throughout BC, here are the top hits for Squamish.
Squamish – Trails to Ride
Located northeast of Pemberton, the Chilcotins are the gemini of mountain biking in BC. There are two sides and each is completely different. From the South, accessed via Pemberton, you can choose from a variety of floatplane access lodge options as the jumping off point for manicured trails in the wilderness, maintained by the guiding licence holder, Tyax Adventures.
Instead of the plush trip, for a completely wild and remote adventure with more bushwhacking and cattle trails than singletrack, the North side of the Chilcotins accessed by heading West about 200km from Williams Lake is your ticket. Note the lack of singletrack and abundance of bushwhacking. You have to be totally self-sufficient. Seriously.
Either way, the Chilcotins will take you on a sweeping adventure into a wild, remote and magical area of South Western BC.
Chilcotins – Adventure options
5. Sunshine Coast
Trails everywhere! All the time! No jokes, Sunshine Coast has so many trail networks to choose from, while the beautiful scenery you travel through to get there whittles out the crowds, making this the hidden gem of mountain biking in BC. Cruise through emerald green forests, classic coastal sandstone rock slabs, and even catch a free ride at the Coast Gravity Park. Start with these three destinations (ok maybe save the last one for a big trip on its own!) and sprinkle in a few trail networks of your choosing and voila, you have the perfect bike trip!
Sunshine Coast – Top three destinations
Get our your cowboy hat and steady yourself for wild riding in wild country, with sidehills galore and voodoos crumbling as you ride past! If endless blue skies and genuine people are your jam then take your knobby tires North to the Cariboo region in BC.
Cariboo – Towns to Ride
With quiet and well-maintained alpine trails and lift accessed riding, Fernie is at the top of my next trip list to go back for more and more and more. There are literally mountains in every direction, with mountain bike trails on all of them!
Fernie – Trails to Ride
Rossland is home to the original classic alpine ride in BC, the Seven Summits trail, taking you on a 29km ridge ride through the emerald green mountains of the Kootenays, and therefore totally worth a stop on your BC bike trip!
A dedicated riding community has built up an impressive network to entice you to stick around this cute ski resort town, with about one hundredth the crowds of Whistler.
Rossland – Trails to Ride
9. Vancouver – the North Shore
Simply know as The North Shore, this is where it all began and above all continues to be the roots of mountain biking in BC. So why is it #9 on my list?? This is where it all began for my mountain biking journey, on a hardtail with 2″ foam forks and vee brakes, and has carried me on through the world of disc brakes, dropper seat posts and epic alpine rides. In other words, if you haven’t ridden the shore yet then your BC mountain biking journey can’t really start until you have! There are three main riding zones on the North Shore. Mt.Seymour has paved road shuttling available (do it!) making it super popular. Heading west, Mt. Fromme has so many classic and rebuilt trails with a nice logging road for access, suitably named Mountain Highway, but it is for biking only – no shuttles at Fromme. Cypress Mountain is stuck in the past, meaning mostly unsanctioned and unmaintained, but paved access and lots of old skool trails give you even more classic shore riding options!
North Shore – Trails to Ride
10. Vancouver Island
Welcome to BC’s temperate island mountain biking paradise! Signature sandstone slabs, grassy knolls galore, and an extra something that just makes you want to grow surfer hair… soak up the mist and vibe of the island style!
Ground zero is the capital of BC, the city of Victoria. Here you will find the heavily used Hartland mountain biking network, plus a scattering of smaller connecting trails and secret stashes. Sooke is worth a side trip West for some adventure gnar (chunky, rooty riding with steep slabs to be found, in an area that backs onto a wilderness reserve), onwards up island the key stops are Mt. Tzouhalem (the Zoo!) and the base village for island mountain biking pilgrimages, Cumberland. Beyond the key stops, choose a network or even choose a smaller island and gorge on the bounty of flowy, challenging and mostly gloriously maintained island singletrack!
Vancouver Island – Trails to Ride